Euro Puppets: The European Commission’s remaking of civil society

Christopher Snowdon, March 2013

With public confidence in the European project waning, the idea of initiating a ‘civil dialogue’ with the public emerged in the mid-1990s as a way of bolstering the EU’s democratic legitimacy. Citizens have been ventriloquised through ‘sock puppet’ charities, think tanks and other ‘civil society’ groups which have been hand-picked and financed by the European Commission (EC). These organisations typically lobby for closer European integration, bigger EU budgets and more EU regulation. They are marked by a homogeneous worldview and similarity of jargon. There is virtually no funding for organisations which seriously question the Commission’s direction of travel. The EC’s policy of picking allies and supporting them with taxpayers’ money has made the system more elitist and less democratic.

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